Friday again … and Christmas Eve! What better pre-Christmas present than a fantasy review for Fantasy Friday with extra added vampires. So festive!
Now, the last time I wrote enthusiastically about a vampire novel it was My swordhand is singing back in July. And The kiss of Death by Marcus Sedgwick is a sequel, of sorts, set more than 100 years later and 900 kms to the west of the cold forests of Romania. At the north-west tip of the Adriatic Sea is a shallow lagoon, protected from the sea by narrow strips of land. And the jewel at the heart of the lagoon is Venice – a city unlike any other.
Marko has ventured to Venice, from across the Adriatic, in search of his missing father, and discovers that his absence is tied up with a curse on the Bellini family – their home is referred to as the House that Kills. Simono Bellini is dying for lack of sleep like his father before him, and his daughter Sorrel lives in fear that this curse will pass to her. Marko is not at all what she had hoped for as a hero, but the two young people find that they must work together if they are to evade the malevolent minions of the Shadow Queen, discover whom they can trust and save both their fathers.
Sedgwick writes for teens, and has a deceptively simple style. Although this novel does not have a great many actual vampires in it, I’m pitching for quality over quantity, and evocative descriptions of the twisted streets of the early 18th century city, and the tainted beauty of La Serenissima (a city that seems to float serenely above the lagoon, even as it rots and sinks slowly into its own waste) perfectly set the scene for this tale of gothic horror. Here’s a sample:
Then there was screaming, and it was real screaming , which sank deep into the sleeping heart of Marko’s brain, and was flung across the early morning waters of the lagoon, where it would hang for hours before finally evaporating.
And with that lovely imagery of a scream hanging, like mist over the water, I shall wish any and all of book coasters readers a very happy holiday. I hope you get to spend a good part of it reading.